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Caesar Essay – The Power of Language

“The word is so powerful that one word can change a life or destroy the lives of millions of people.” Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, writes about how influential our words can be. They are one of the most powerful tools we have. If one uses them maliciously or carelessly, manipulation and deception becomes very easy. Great speakers have always been the most powerful leaders. An example of this would be the play, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. The main characters in this play are able to control people’s emotions and actions with a simple speech. In this play Shakespeare proves that language can be just as powerful a weapon as a sword.

An example of a man who uses his words spitefully is Cassius. He is able to turn one of Caesar’s closest friends, Brutus, against Caesar. Here, Cassius tells Brutus that everyone loves Brutus except for Caesar. “Cassius: I have heard where many of the best respect in Rome/(Except immortal Caesar), speaking of Brutus,/And groaning underneath this age’s yoke”(718). Cassius is able to convince Brutus to betray one of his best friends using a clever mind and even more clever words. Cassius also says, “If I were Brutus now, and he were Cassius,/he should not humor me”(725). This quote shows us that Cassius intentionally uses his words to harm Brutus. Cassius runs the show, as he pulls people to his side by merely speaking to them.

Another character who knows how to influence others through words is Brutus. Even when he assassinates the people’s beloved leader he is able to convince the people to be on his side by giving them a persuasive speech. The people loved Caesar but Brutus convinces them that his intentions were wrong. This quote shows how the citizens were on Brutus’s side after he gave his speech.

Fourth Plebeian: ‘Twere best he speak no harm of Brutus here!

First Plebeian: This Caesar was a tyrant.

Third Plebeian: Nay that’s certain. We are blest that Rome is rid of him. (762)

Brutus turned the people completely against Caesar. It was not his actions that did this, it was his words. Not only did he turn the people against Caesar, but he turned them completely towards him so that the people would have been very angry if Mark Antony said anything bad about Brutus. Brutus also says, ““Speak, strike, redress.” Am I entreated/To speak and strike? O Rome, I make thee promise” (734).

The last and most significant example of the power of language is Marc Antony. He was able to start a war simply by giving an amazing speech. His speech not only started a war against the conspirators, but led to the death of Brutus and Cassius. “Antony: Over thy wounds now do I prophecy/(Which like dumb mouths do ope their ruby lips/To beg the curse and utterance of my tongue),/A curse shall light upon the limbs of men:/Domestic fury and fierce civil strife”(758). Marc Antony knew that his speech would rile up the people. Even after the citizens had listened to Brutus’s speech, Antony was still able to turn them against Brutus and Cassius. Marc Antony truly proved that words can be the most powerful weapon we can use.

In this play Shakespeare proves that language is undeniably a more powerful weapon then a sword. Cassius, Brutus, and Antony are all examples of how dangerous words can be. They can destroy people. Throughout history, great leaders and dictators have used their words to control and sometimes destroy their people. Injuries from a sword may heal but words have a lasting effect that go deeper then any other wound possibly can.